Ricochet News

Port Alfred serial rapist handed two life sentences

Nov 28, 2019
Port Alfred serial rapist handed two life sentences

King Williams Town - Eastern Cape SAPS Provincial Commissioner, Lt Gen Liziwe Ntshinga, on Wednesday welcomed and applauded the weighty sentence handed down on a convicted rapist.

“This sentence serves to send out a clear message to perpetrators of Gender Based Violence, that the SAPS will not rest until Justice is served for victims and survivors. I commend the investigating officer for her diligence, commitment and passion. She experienced many challenges but overcame all and the outcome bears testimony! Constable Catherine, may your high moral standing and immeasurable desire serve as an inspiration to your colleagues,” said Lt Gen Ntshinga.

The relentless passion by Constable Sandra Catherine of the Port Alfred Family Violence Child Protection and Sexual Offence Unit (FCS), to seek justice for innocent victims of crime paid off when rape accused, Nkosekhaya Gqomo, aged 23, was found guilty of two counts of Aggravated Robbery and two counts of Rape in October this year.

He was sentenced in the Grahamstown High Court on Wednesday.

"Gqomo was meted out with two life sentences for rape and an additional 15 years imprisonment for Aggravated Robbery," said police spokesperson, Captain Mali Govender.

"It is alleged that on the evening of the 3rd of December 2016, an 18-year-old victim was walking to her home in Ndlovini, Nemato, which was not far off, when two males approached her.

"They grabbed her and one of the suspects swung her onto his shoulder. She started to scream and the other stuffed something into her mouth. Her cries for help were inaudible."

Capt Govender said that as they walked on, a white vehicle stopped next to them and she was forced into the car.

"At this stage, she noticed the accused who carried her, had a knife which he threatened to use on her, should she make a noise.

"Gripped with fear, victim noticed that the vehicle had stopped and they were surrounded by bushes," she added.

"Both the accused and his co-accused took her out of the car, which drove off, and forcibly led her into a dense bush and pushed her into a ditch where they both took turns to rape her repeatedly until the early hours of the morning.

"At daybreak after the perpetrators finished their heinous deed, they left her in the ditch and fled on foot.

"The victim then managed to get up and ran towards the road where a passer-by assisted her and directed her to the Nemato SAPS where a case was opened."

Capt Govender said that information received by the investigating officer is that the second suspect is deceased.

"A few weeks later, on the night of New Year’s day, 1 January 2017, the accused was in the company of another accused (who is currently incarcerated on another unrelated charge of housebreaking in Port Alfred), approached a 27-year-old victim who was in the company of her boyfriend near the Port Alfred Library," said Capt Govender.

"They were chatting when the accused and his accomplice approached the couple and demanded their cell phones at knife point.

"They grabbed the victim by her hands and dragged her to nearby bushes whilst the helpless boyfriend ran to seek help.

"They both took turns to rape her whilst her boyfriend ran for help. After their monstrous attack, the suspects fled with the victims' cell phones."

She said that the severely traumatised victim then got up and noticed a police vehicle and cried out for help.

Constable Catherine experienced several challenges during the investigation

In 2009, Gqomo who was 13 years old was arrested and charged for rape of an 11-year-old male. He was released and placed on a 'diversion program'.

"In June of 2018, Gqomo was arrested by Constable Catherine and after his appearance in court, he was released on bail. On the date that he was due to appear in court, he failed to appear and a warrant for his arrest was issued.

"Local detectives traced Gqomo after he committed a housebreaking in Port Alfred, which also linked the accused through DNA," Capt Govender said.

Const Catherine used this opportunity and re-arrested the suspect after which the case was transferred to the Grahamstown High Court in preparation for trial on 28 November 2018.

During an interview, Constable Catherine, who has three years and one month in the SAPS, said; "I have a burning passion to seek justice for victims of Gender based Violence. This sentence may not reverse the incidents but I believe, it will bring comfort and a certain degree of closure to the survivors, their families as well as the community that we as the SAPS will persevere to bring these evil criminals to book.

"My task does not end here, as I am currently facilitating that these survivors receive psychological counselling as they are extremely fragile. Words cannot adequately express my sincere gratitude to my team including the Director of Public Prosecutions for the amazing support and guidance in ensuring that justice is served."

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